20141023

The Best Holiday Gifts Are Wishes

It is early to be reflecting on 2014, New Years Day is weeks ahead. But the smell of autumn triggers nostalgia. I remember how Mikey and I spent the past decade living by pledges that changed everything. We purchased land, built a home and learned to make, clothing, fuel, and community. We wrangled free of what bound us and put our trust in nature. Our prize for doing so was common sense, our portion of the wisdom inherent in all that lives. Then I gathered up every bit of what I learned and I put it in a book that I titled The Good Life Lab.

At our start in 2006 living gently on the earth was not yet trendy, neither was a decommodified lifestyle. After the 08’ stock market crash and new evidence that climate change was real, movements started up. Green trends followed. People gardened and learned who Monsanto is. But just a few years’ later and inspiration lilts. We are weary from the weight of the disaster that may be our fate. Greener products won’t save us. We return to shopping with a few better options like organics. 

Why weren’t we transformed? Where was the escape hatch to a world we are capable of imagining? While on my book tour I noticed that people see a clear image of a better world and they describe it similarly, a healthy and vibrant planet, an economic model that abolishes poverty and distributes resources to all, meaningful work, having enough to live, harmony between nations and people. I wonder about why this dream is so hard to get off the ground. 

While driving back from Albuquerque the other day I listened to a TED Talk about creativity. People like Sting were interviewed and so were scientists who were trying to pin down creativity by aiming MRI’s at the brains of improvisational musicians like Keith Jarrett. All agreed that creativity is the result of turning off the part of the brain located in the frontal cortex that identifies with self. It is the part that says things like, “what will people think?” or “what if I fail?” Sting said that creativity is the result of being willing to fall on your face in front of everyone. They know that willingness to fail is an act that requires trust in something unseen and belief that something not yet created may become because of you, through you.

Some people thought my book was philosophical. My publisher categorized it a memoir. They also called it gifty. When The Good Life Lab book won the Nautilus award it was for sustainability. The Los Angeles review of books compared me to Aldus Huxley and what I wrote to Walden. People find it in bookstores filed under building. On the surface my book teaches how to make bio diesel, clothing, building materials, power, and food. I share what I know about how to live out of the waste stream and find new income streams. The lessons and stories are structures for the telling of something more significant. The Good Life Lab is about making a promise. A sacred promise is different from promising to recycle, or reduce carbon emissions by riding a bike to work. A sacred promise involves trust in something that there may be no concrete evidence of, something that is perhaps imaginary. We did this when we chose an ideal and then lived by it. Then we listened, not with our brains but with our hearts. When wisdom came we trusted it even though it was not a match with the cultural milieu.

My book is written and I’m done touring to promote it. My homestead is less interesting to me than it was before I wrote it. Built and functioning it needs me less. My heart looks to wilder terrain in order to connect to nature, things like backpacking and trail running. I’m considering starting up a new non-profit project. Unlike the green movement that left people weary and reluctantly returning to unhealthy habits head hung low still gripping a lilted wish for a better world, Mikey and I continually grow in the direction of our original wish. Our energy is ever increasing. We are interested.  I believe that this is due to the wish we made. Hazrat Inayat Khan once said, “The one whose desire is not fulfilled did not know how to desire.” His son Pir Vilayat taught that wisdom arises from the interaction between inherent knowledge or truth and acquired knowledge from embodied experience (among other things). This is a match for my own experience, which tells me that the rationalists were wrong. Truth is sensory. Without human imagination and heart we cannot get to the world that we are capable of dreaming of because our ideas cannot take flight. When Mikey and I dreamed aloud (at risk of falling on our face) our promise (to preserve life) led to knowledge from within and without. I believe this is so because our wish was for life, of which we are a part. Once connected to life a living being may claim their dispensation of it, their common sense. Real wisdom, we soon discovered, is not subject change due to trend, and it does not tire under the weight of the world. It does not run out.

This post is long. I apologize. My aim was to share a secret. It is true that The Good Life Lab is a book about being a maker of things. It will show you how to decommodify your life at a time in which the whole world is for sale. But the heart of my book is about desire. Its real aim is to show you how to make a wish that will be fulfilled.

While I was on my book tour folks six or a dozen copies of The Good Life Lab as gifts for friends and relatives. My publisher was right the book is gifty. To encourage you to share The Good Life Lab with your loved ones this holiday season I’ve come up with ways to thank you by giving you gifts.

Each week leading up to New Years Day I will pull a name from a hat that contains the names of those who’ve placed an order that week. Winner chooses from the below prizes (until they run out).

PRIZES
One of four color illustrations from The Good Life Lab 11’X14” mounted on foam core board.
The Groping Woobie - a wearable spooning blanket from pg. 45 in the chapter Broken Heart Meets Giant Band Aid 64” X 80" handmade by Wendy.
Hangable paper prayer flags that read “holy scrap.”
Battery desulfator handmade by Mikey.
One of three Holy Scrap gift packs containing botanical medicines wildcrafted from medicinal plants of southwest handmade by Wendy. 

Ways To Enter (click drop down for three options) 


(one ship to address please, if you need items to ship to multiple addresses shipping will be added)

I’m happy to sign and personalize books and the illustrated art pieces. Just include a request with your order. Good luck, and thank you for your tremendous support.
May all of your wishes come true! – Wendy





20141019

Things To Do With Antlers

When I was living in New York I hardly thought about antlers. Now I find them on hikes and around town at at yard sales. The other day I decided to give these a little extra color. Whatta ya think?

20141017

Sufi Winter Schedule

As you may know, here in Truth or Consequences I lead a contemplative Sufi group. Please feel welcome to drop in on us should you find yourself in town. And please do consider coming to town to our very special winter retreat. It is a wonderful opportunity to do deep inner work. You need not have any previous experience or knowledge of Sufism to join in these events.

20141015

Transformed Trash

I recently posted about an experiment I was trying out. I sent broken, old jewelry to an Etsy designer that I chose to remake the items into beautiful new jewelry. By using old parts and supplying my own materials I was able to afford jewelry that I otherwise could not. I loved working with Saara. She is genuinely talented, great at communicating and she designs beautiful pieces. The experiment could not have turned out better so I'm recommending her to you. Saara's designs contain whimsy while being organic and earthy. To see the materials I sent her go back to my first post about it. Posted here is the pic of what she made for me. The three rings swivel when I wear them and so they always look different. All three stones are different heights with different sized mounts, the rings vary as well, polished to matted finish. It is positively lovely and Saara and I are already working on a pair of earrings. You can find her store, Saara Reidsema, here and of course you may write to her if you have custom work. Enjoy!

20141007

Five Days in Utah's Grand Gulch

We enjoyed our longest backpacking trip ever, five days in Utah’s Grand Gulch. We covered about thirty miles in total, it was slow going at times due to technical terrain, drank from puddles, and saw lots of ruins. I wouldn’t have done anything different. We packed the right food, gear, and clothing.  Our packs were at 25 lbs each including equipment, food for the entire trip, and 2 liters of water each. We even managed to forage enough oyster mushrooms for several meals. 5 Days in Utah's Grand Gulch 5 Days in Utah's Grand Gulch 5 Days in Utah's Grand Gulch

Full Lunar Eclipse Tonight

One of our favorite things to do in New Mexico is sit in a our Hot Spring and watch a two hour lunar eclipse.

20140926

Checking In With Friends @ Root Simple - An Interview

This week Mikey and I enjoyed chatting blogger, author, Erik Knutzen. With his wife Kelly he keeps the blog Root Simple. The pair have also written two great books, The Urban Homestead and Making It. Their homestead is in Los Angeles where they live an active life and keep a sophisticated homestead. Check out their blog for all sorts of tips and information. And listen to our chat with Erik earlier this week. We had a bunch of fun talking about our lives, post The Good Life Lab. You can check out our conversation here. Enjoy!

Have You Ever Tried a Running Skirt?

Wendy’s fist test 8 mile run in a running skirt.

20140924

Sealing Our Tent Seams

We have been happy with our super light Tarp Tent so far. However, we have not tested it out in rainy weather yet. Our friend suggested we seal the seams with a mix of GE II Clear Silicon Caulk before our next backpacking adventure. We also added some silicon strips to the bottom of the tent so our matts and bags will stay in place.

20140922

Big Foot

Running in nature invites you to get over fears: fear of creatures and of getting lost for example. I have learned to love reading the tracks when I run. This morning on a 9 mile run I ran into this big print. Hummm, not likely a cat as they retract their claws. Too big for a coyote? Not sure, but I'm glad we didn't bump.

20140919

Steep Peak - Our Local Wilderness Hike

We have a local Wilderness area that is less than forty miles from our place. It’s called Apache Kid and it’s over 55k acres in size. The only bummer about the place is that the easiest access point is a trailhead that takes you up 3k feet in elevation in less than 5 miles. Today Wendy and I went with Sesame to look for mushrooms at 10k feet.

Steep Peak - Our Local Wilderness Hike #2 Steep Peak - Our Local Wilderness Hike #3

I like the Gummy Shoes - Montrail FluidFlex

After trying a half dozen pairs of trail running shoes I’ve picked a favorite. My Montrail FluidFlex are crazy light, drain water incredibly fast and have just the right amount of gummy cushioning. I picked up a replacement pair for $32 last week. There are two downsides to these. The soles are so soft that they tend to wear out by 300 miles. They also pickup a lot sand/dirt while running to the point that I need to pull the insoles before each outing and really shake them clean. I noticed that that multiple top runners from the Hard Rock 100 are also wearing this specific model of shoe (not the FluidFlex II).

20140918

Lazy and Late Prickly Pear Harvet

Happy to score some ripe prickly pear cactus fruit tonight. Some minor trespassing was involved. I used tongs and a cardboard box to harvest the fruit. Just before turning on the $35 steam juicer which efficiently extracts the juice I jabbed each piece with a fork several times.

Lazy and Late Prickly Pear Harvest #2

Jujube to Syrup

Jujube to Syrup by mikey and wendy
Jujube to Syrup, a photo by mikey and wendy on Flickr.
Our jujube trees have been cranking out baskets of delicious fruit for weeks. Since we are trying to maintain a pretty low carb diet we needed to do something to preserve the abundance of fruit. We came up with a pretty good solution. Harvest the jujubes when they are ripe, boil them down in the sun oven, remove the fruit and boil down the syrup further, finally dehydrate the remaining fruit for backpacking. Jujube to Syrup #2 Jujube fruit in different stages of processing. Jujube syrup being boiled down.

20140917

Where Is Waldo?

Do you recognize the woman in this photo?  It seems that she dropped her SD card in the Huston (Bush) Airport on August 30th. Look closely, do you see the flyer she's waving in the air? It's for a Swap-O-Rama-Rama. That's how the photo got to me. You guessed it. A good samaritan picked up the SD card and looked at the pics for clues. The flyer lead her to me since I'm the founder of Swap-O-Rama-Rama. I have no idea who this girl is but this sure seemed to be a great excuse for a round of where is Waldo. Do you know her? Perhaps someone that you know knows her? Game on.

20140916

Pain In The Gut

I've been plagued by reflux for about three years. At first I tried natural remedies and when the symptom went away I returned to life as usual thinking it was over. Hardly. I don't do pharmaceuticals, but a couple of times out of desperation I took a few over the counter pills. Once I read about how they work I stopped. On year three I got serious. Now I understand that solving reflux is complex. It is more than diet. Feeling good is a lifestyle change. Time of day, portions, food combining. . . there are many details. After a year of data mining I came up with a diet. I made many sacrifices and there have been gains. I have more energy, better sleep, lost weight, and my concentration is sharpening. My palette changed too. The sweet potato, carrot and jujube syrup that I make from my jujube tree's fruit taste like candy to me. I find hope that I can handle the likely next step, an ultra low carb diet to address candida, a destructive gut yeast that people with reflux often have too much of.

Meanwhile I this is helpful to you. Feel good!

Make Up - 
high fat (1/3 animal fats 2/3 non animal from things like ghee, olives, avocado, nuts), medium protein, low carb
regarding dairy: eat lots of homemade yogurt but no cheese unless homemade (raw) or goat cheese
moderate citrus, chocolate (bittersweet only)
no grains, wheat, soy, caffeine, refined sugar or processed food, caffeine, or alcohol

Time - 
if in pain upon waking eat oatmeal asap
raw juices before 3pm only
load up on carbs immediately after endurance sports 
after 3pm carbs from veggies only (no fruit) - emphasis on soluble fiber veggies (low intake of non-soluble)
no food of any kind after 7pm 

Amount and Combinations - 
chew everything completely (break down food so acids in belly don't have to)
fruit is always eaten alone (otherwise it ferments in the gut) 
no liquids with meals (dilutes stomach acid needed to break down food)
if you drink alcohol (yeah that's cheating) than dilute it with lots of water so it does not damage the gut too much

Supplements - 

DGL Licorice enzymes (stimulates enzymes, great for immediate symptom relief), goldenseal and milk thistle (bitters to stimulate digestion)

Resource - a web resource that I found helpful is Chris Kessler's site.  


Looking for the Right Box

Sometimes you need to ship a large item that you don't have a box for.

Rain from Hurricane Odile

The weather forecast says rain for 3 days straight. The moisture started coming in this morning so we decided to go for a wet 3 mile dog run. Hurricane Odile moisture in New Mexico

20140911

Cross Town Traffic


I may be on my way to being a tracker. I just love examining the prints that show the patterns of life when I'm out running in the desert. The desert sand reveals the tiny to the mammoth, insect, reptile, mammal and yes 4 wheel drive. This little trail, which I found at about 5 miles out from town seems to be well used by a heard of goats. Often a small trail will show a huge variety of tracks in front of it telling me that there are freeways made by creatures living in the wild. The second shot shows the area where I found the trail, you can see we've had some rain as everything is green and feels fresh. I think Mikey's about to post the tree of death, also found in this area. You'll see. . .